This shit is weird

At the start of 2016 my mid-term goals were bland and unassuming: Learn to drive, earn a promotion, save to buy a house. These lasted until early March when I was struck out of the blue by something that I’d long since thought dead and ticked off my ‘fix’ list’. *Anxiety*, my worst enemy which sounds so innocuous to anyone that hasn’t experienced it. Just a fear that you confront or back away from. But no.

Its meaningless terror from nowhere - a nameless dread that I first experienced when I was still in Primary school and couldn’t possibly understand why I was suddenly ready to run for my life whilst sitting at a computer game. It makes you question every decision you make, some of them a thousand times in a day, looking for anything that might make you feel better, might make it stop, destroying your life in the process only to discover its still there. Going to bed every night too physically exhausted to be afraid anymore, adrenaline spent, feeling tired but almost normal and wondering if maybe now its ok because you got through another day. Waking up the next morning and discovering you were wrong because there it is again and somehow you have to keep going. Sometimes you’re lucky and you get as far as thinking ‘wow, I’m not scared today’ and then because you dared to remember it exists it leaps on you, the beast that lives somewhere inside the back of your head and deep in your gut all at once. No wonder my parents couldn’t understand when I first tried to explain how I felt to them. No wonder I couldn’t understand it myself and so dismissed it as ‘that wierd thing that happens to me sometimes’, learning that if I just ignored it long enough it would go away again.

It wasn’t until High School that I discovered it’s ‘a thing’, something recognised that actually happens to other people and has a name. And then it evolved from something odd I just dealt with to something I feared and spent all my time trying to avoid. I coped alone, too ashamed and afraid to tell anyone, until University, when I met my now wife, and almost instantly it was like we’d known each other our whole lives. I told her everything and she supported me at every turn, whether by leaving a lecture with me so I didn’t have to walk out alone, or understanding my avoiding them all together because of what might happen. Occasionally she’d suggest I talk to a therapist and I would refuse and snarl that I didn’t need to tell anyone else and talking about it only made it more real, giving it credence made it something more to be afraid of. Until the day I told her I could understand why people commit suicide, and I was frogmarched unwillingly to the nearest medical professional, resulting in my choosing to see a therapist and go on medication, and oh so painfully slowly, I began to feel my life was my own again.

When it resurfaced I tried initially to deny its return, as if pretending it wasn’t there would make it go away because I’d done this before and I refused to do it again.

Deep down I knew enough to realise it never works, and as it fed itself on my terror I went into full damage control. So I told my wife everything, dealing with my worst fear, that I make her miserable with worry about me, by making it come true. I emailed our therapist and told her everything that had happened, begging for help because I couldn’t wait until our regular appointment. I called my psychiatrist and told him I needed to increase my medication because I wasn’t going to cope without it, even knowing that the side effects would turn me into a dumb zombie, and had a panic attack in his waiting room because he couldn’t change my prescription without a face to face meeting. I told my manager that I was struggling and changing my meds, and likely to be a bit ineffectual for a while. He said not to worry about it, just get better.

Once satisfied I’d done everything I could I freaked out because I’d done everything I could to make things better and it wasn’t. Now all I could do was suffer through the following weeks, probably months, with my only goals: ‘Don’t destroy my marriage’, ‘Don’t lose my job’, ‘Don’t kill myself’. Survive the living hell that I knew was coming. The only hope I had, that I had beaten this once before and this time I had help, an understanding and supportive network of patient wife, therapist, manager, psychiatrist, battling constantly with the voice in my head screaming ‘you didn’t beat it before because its back and its never going away. You’ve been lying to yourself for five years, and everything you thought you knew is wrong.’

When I was at my worst I promised myself I would consider blogging about this once I felt better, because I knew that I can only talk about it when its not happening, and I was trying to convince myself that I would be ok again. The first time I tried too soon and led myself into a downward spiral that lasted three days. This is attempt two, and I am, at least for now, at peace.

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